Moving Day

“DO you want,” pronounced an eminent journalist, “an appropriate emblem of this country, and this age? Then stand on the side-walks of New-York, and watch the universal transit on the first of May.” We could suppose the scene to which Lydia Maria Child referred was some rite of rejuvenation, an urban awakening to the warmth … More Moving Day

The Dunlap benefit

THE home of the Stuyvesant Institute, its stately façade aligned with Broadway, admitted within its walls a wide range of organizations, activities and initiatives, all in some way justified by a founding commitment to “the diffusion of useful knowledge.” Barely a year old in November 1838 when William A. Whitehead first passed through its doors, … More The Dunlap benefit

Barrow Street

SUNDRY and sustained attachments bound William A. Whitehead early to the nation’s commercial capital. They were established just after the Revolutionary War and well before his birth, upon his father’s arrival as a young immigrant from the Caribbean. A furniture-maker’s apprentice turned promising craftsman, then cashier in Wall Street’s most enduring financial institution, the elder … More Barrow Street

The storm of war

Hark! Hark! what sounds salute my ear? What means this thund’ring din I hear? Why roars the deep-mouth’d cannon? Why Does joy seem beaming in each eye           Which look’d of late so sad? Why are Fredonia’s flags display’d? Why beat the drums? Why this parade? Why peal the bells? Why mirth abounding? While with … More The storm of war

In a country town

AS the last-born of his father’s children, William A. Whitehead would have wished to learn from his older siblings, and his parents too, about circumstances that formed him, even though he did not experience them directly. For he well understood that the constituents of a family, no less than of a people or state, not … More In a country town

What’s in a name

IT was mid-May, and winter had yielded finally to spring. Perth Amboy’s proliferation of trees shimmered in the unbroken warmth, while every garden put on its most daring scents and colors. In harmony with the outdoors the Whitehead home was a place of merriment, most of all on the twin anniversary of the 12th, when … More What’s in a name

The entrepôt

GULLS danced a ballet around the spars of the Mary Lord with a semblance of exultation at her journey’s end. Laborers and clerks, meanwhile, joined in their own peculiar revels, hefting wooden crates from the hold, inspecting and recording the cargo dockside, wheeling it away to a waiting storehouse. Chests of exotic shape and design … More The entrepôt

The hero’s welcome

CHARACTERS famous and obscure helped shape the thoughts and deeds of William Whitehead. Of the famous, none was more universally adored than the French nobleman who took America’s side in the Revolution. Whitehead, though born a half century after him, clearly shared in the popular regard for the Marquis de Lafayette. When Lafayette set foot on … More The hero’s welcome